Men-in-Blue: The fire burns within

The Indian team has often been described as flat-track bullies who can only prosper at home. But the performances over the last few months have dispelled the notion.

The title triumphs at the ICC Champions Trophy and the tri-series in the Caribbean show that there is a fire burning within the Men in Blue to prove their mettle on foreign soil as well.

The spat between Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina during the final stages of a match may have been ugly to watch, but it showed how much the new breed of India cricketers care about performing for their country.

When the wicket and conditions are challenging, champions come through while mediocre talents fade away. India won the tri-series, thanks to the nerves of steel showcased by Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the final against Sri Lanka, but what the triumph showed was that the transition phase in Indian cricket seems to have ended and the young guns are in the final stages of making India an invincible outfit in ODIs.

The man whose name comes first in this regard has to be Virat Kohli. Stepping into the breach due to Dhoni’s injury, he couldn’t have hoped for a worse start to his captaincy career, losing the first two matches.

But the Delhi lad took the bull by the horns to score a century against West Indies in a must-win match. The team didn’t look back thereafter. If aggression was evident in the way he set attacking fields, his calmer side came to the fore when he acted as the mediator in the Jadeja- Raina spat.

Players with immense potential showcased their talent on the field, rather than at the discussion table. Rohit Sharma also seems to be on the right track. Always known as a classy batsman, he showed that he was willing to get hit on the body to preserve his wicket.

The Mumbai batsman was ready to sweat it out in the middle and play the role of a sheet anchor.

Rohit has found the perfect ally in Shikhar Dhawan. Even though the latest star of Indian cricket didn’t set the Caribbean stands on fire, he did score 135 runs in five matches — including a fifty — and most importantly, looked happy to grind it out even if he couldn’t unleash his drives and cuts.

But the man who arguably made the biggest difference to India’s chances was Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Dropped in favour of Mohammed Shami for a match, he came back against West Indies with a bang. More than scalping three wickets, it was his attitude that caught the eye. Whenever Kohli wanted a wicket, Bhuvneshwar obliged.

Umesh Yadav also kept picking wickets, but was more expensive which is why Bhuvneshwar is fast becoming a strike bowler in ODIs. As for the knight in the team, Jadeja has gone from strength to strength and is the all-rounder that Indian cricket has been searching for a long time.

He can always be counted on to chip in with bat or ball. Even as most of these players get ready to take on Zimbabwe — not expected to be too tough an opposition — under Virat Kohli, India has definitely found a bunch of players who can make it the team to beat at the 2015 World Cup.


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